Azerbaijan ‘conducted military operation’ in Nagorno-Karabakh

Troops targeted positions of local militias in a retaliation strike, Baku has said

The army of Azerbaijan has conducted a military operation against ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh militias that sought to “establish new combat positions” in the region, the nation’s defense ministry claimed in a statement on Wednesday.

The operation was launched after fighters “grossly violated” the ceasefire agreement between Yerevan and Baku, mediated by Moscow in 2020, the defense ministry insisted. Baku had earlier accused the Armenians of attacking Azerbaijani positions in the region and confirmed the death of at least one soldier.

Baku’s forces seized control over some “important commanding heights” during what it called ‘Operation Revenge,’ it added.

The operation was launched after the local militias “grossly violated” the 2020 ceasefire agreement between Yerevan and Baku, mediated by Moscow in 2020, the defense ministry added. Baku had earlier accused Nagorno-Karabakh militias of attacking Azerbaijani positions in the region and confirmed the death of at least one soldier.

The ministry also published a video that appears to show an airstrike on a local militia’s base housing some artillery units. Footage showed several towed artillery pieces and trucks being destroyed.

Tensions have been running high in Nagorno-Karabakh for days now. Most of the region, which is officially recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, is under Yerevan’s de-facto control. It is home to a majority ethnically Armenian population.

Both Yerevan and Baku have recently accused each other of military provocations in the region, and have reported casualties. Russia, which has a peacekeeping force in the area, reported “ceasefire violations” and said it took measures to “resolve” the issues arising.

Each side has been accusing the other of attacks, including “intensive” shelling, since Monday, when the first reports about a flare-up appeared in local media. Armenian media reported the Azerbaijani troops attacking the local ethnic Armenian militias in several locations throughout Nagorno-Karabakh over the past days, and have accused Baku of planning an offensive in the region.

The Armenian Ministry of Defense confirmed the deaths of at least two soldiers in an attack by Azerbaijan, adding that 14 other servicemen had been injured. Armenia’s Security Council Secretary, Armen Grigoryan, told local media on Wednesday that Baku wanted Armenia to stop using the so-called Lachin Corridor – a mountainous pathway that links it to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh – and to choose another route. Grigoryan has denounced such demands as violating the 2020 agreement.

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Russia’s peacekeeping force stationed in the region reported three ceasefire violations by Azerbaijani troops on Tuesday and said that these resulted in at least one local militia member being injured. The peacekeepers took efforts to resolve the situation by working with both the Azerbaijani and the Armenian sides, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The authorities in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic that control the disputed region confirmed the death of at least one local militia member and have declared a partial mobilization in the region in response to the Azerbaijani actions, according to media reports.

Yerevan and Baku fought a 44-day-long war in 2020, during which Azerbaijan captured parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory controlled by Armenians since the early 1990s, which de-jure remains under Baku’s control. The conflict ended with a ceasefire agreement that saw Russian peacekeepers deployed to the region. 

The situation on the ground remained tense ever since as both sides repeatedly accused each other of provoking hostilities.